Boeing recently announced that it was slowing 747-8 production from 1.75 units per month to 1.5 due to lack of orders, but there are hints the manufacturer is close to some good news on the order front, at least on the freighter side of things.
- First, while Cathay’s remaining three firm-ordered 747-8Fs have been built and are awaiting delivery (one in November, two in December), we have seen a reference to another freighter in the early stages of production slated for Cathay, along with rumors from several sources indicating that Cathay is negotiating with Boeing for several more 747-8Fs, with Boeing to take back Cathay’s remaining 747-400Fs as part of the deal. Cargo Facts believes, but has not been able to confirm, that this may all be part of a larger deal in which Cathay will place a launch order for Boeing’s new 777X.
Second, a 747-8F that has been almost all white since it was built, recently received some fresh paint. This 747-8F (37564 ), one of the early-build units, was originally one of twelve ordered by Atlas Air Worldwide holdings, but Atlas exercised a contractual right to cancel the first three of those orders. Two of the three were eventually sold to an “unidentified customer” and are now being operated by Saudia Cargo, but the third remained an orphan – all white except for Atlas livery on its rudder. However, in late October it appeared sporting fresh blue paint on its nacelles – Atlas blue [or Silk Way blue — see comment below]. No announcement has been made about a customer, but the fresh paint suggests that something must be in the works.
Unconfirmed rumors and speculation at this point, but interesting nonetheless.